Keith Everette Smith

Producer, Songwriter, Multi-Instrumentalist

Filtering by Tag: teaching and Training

Charlie Peacock and the Civil Wars

I mentioned Charlie Peacock in my last post. Tonight I was reading blogs in my blog reader and I became more inspired to create something authentic than I have in a very long time. I truly believe that this post will inspire you in much the same way. I’d love to hear your comments but more than that, please thank Charlie for this wonderful post!

My favorite resources

I find myself frequenting many blogs and websites throughout the week as I work. Sometimes I’m looking for a specific solution for a problem I’ve run into, sometimes I’m looking to be creatively inspired and sometimes I’m just looking for some light reading (where I accidentally pick up on new tips and tricks). I’m sure there are lots of sites I’m forgetting and I’ll surely come across new sites as I continue to scan the web!

Here’s just a few…. - I mentioned Gearslutz in a post earlier this week. Gearslutz is a public forum for anyone into music production and in particular, GEAR. The people who post on GS tend to be gear fanatics and spout their opinions freely. You can learn a lot on GS. In particular, read through the Expert threads from producer/engineers like Bruce Swedien, Dave Pensado, Al Schmitt and Tony Maserati! (note: Watch out for all the crack heads who speak with no actual knowledge on a subject. It’s actually kinda comical) - This may be kind of obvious at this point but you’ll be surprised what you can come up with in terms of a quality education on audio by searching for topics on youtube. Some of my favorite - This magazine is fantastic. I particularly love their “Secrets of the Mix Engineer” column. They interview all kinds of mixers and analyze current hits all the way down to EQ and compression settings, types of FX and how the mixer overcame certain challenges along the way. GREAT stuff. If you subscribe to the magazine you get access to the all past issues digitally for free! (BLOG) - I just found this blog and am about to dig in and read through all the posts. I enjoy blogs like this because it gives you some insight into the mind of a mixer. (BLOG) - Another great blog about all things recording. I enjoy the title of the blog too (I genuinely love pro tools! I still think it’s funny) (BLOG) - TuneCore is a fantastic resource for digitally distributing your music. They have a passion for educating as well. Their blog features tips and tutorials as well as discussions on issues presented to the record industry. Fantastic! (BLOG) - A blog by music genius Charlie Peacock. This one is pretty new but promises to be very educational! Charlie is definitely someone I’m excited to learn from!

There are certainly more. As I find them I’ll blog them. Please, please… if you have a resource that you think others would enjoy go ahead and post it in a comment! Don’t hold back. Share what you know!

Where's your focus

Where’s the focus?

Mixing for bands can be interesting. Sometimes the guys don’t even need to tell me what instruments they play. I can often tell by listening to their critiques of the mix what they play. The drummer is most concerned with finding the best drum sounds. The guitarist cares most for his solos and on and on.

As a producer I find myself doing the same thing. I am an instrumentalist and sing very little. I can find myself getting really excited about the interesting band arrangement I’ve created and forget about what matters most… the vocal! I think this is a danger for any instrumentalist. I suppose if you’re a vocalist you might care more for the vocal than the band. (I know this is true of at least a few of my vocalist/producer friends so I guess it’s likely to be true across the board.)

The vocal is the most important part of your song. Try to notice when your focus has drifted to some other element, and discern whether or not the focus of the mix has improperly shifted. Maybe the guitars have found themselves too out front in the mix and the energy of the vocal is lost. If so, redirect!

From a production standpoint, remember that everything else in your song has a secondary focus to the vocal. This can actually ease the pain of arranging. Keep your mind’s eye on the vocal and get a feel for what is needed to surround the vocal and lift it into focus.

It can be easy to create arrangements that are distracting and actually take away the vocal’s impact. It might help to play your mix, focus and the vocal and notice when the arrangement has awkwardly stolen the attention. Things like lead guitars, background vocals and programmed FX are typical culprits.

When the vocal is not the focus

Here’s an idea… Rather than placing a busy instrumental part right over the vocal, maybe consider placing these ideas between vocal lines or in vocal-less sections. You should always have something interesting to focus on in your song. When there is no vocal (intro, turnaround, instrumental section, outro) you have a great opportunity to create unique hooks and instrumental melodies that can really support the song without getting in the way.

The mixer and the focus

If you’re a mixer, don’t be afraid to mute, duck and rearrange for the betterment of the song. Be sure you have the blessing of the producer before trying out your arrangement ideas. Some producers are open to re-arranging and some are not. I’ve found that most producers are open to hearing what you can come up with, but don’t get too attached. If he doesn’t like your idea it’s ok. You work for him! At the end of the day the producer should get what he wants from the mix. Hold everything with an open fist (good life advice if you ask me).


  • Focus on the vocal
  • eliminate distractions and clutter that distracts from the vocal
  • Find focus in every section of your song

2010... my new era

I remember the year 2000. I was really young (still in high school actually) and wide-eyed about my future. There was so much I wanted to do and accomplish with my life and I was eager to get started. 10 years later I’m proud of where I’ve been and I’m still very excited about the future.

This year I’ve resolved to make several changes in my life and strengthen the things that have worked for me in the last ten years.

This year I’m going to spend some extra time on my blog writing helpful articles, posting reviews of gear, pointing you to other helpful resources to help you grow as a musician/recordist/writer!! It’ll be fun and I hope you’ll find it very informative.


I get emails from time to time from young recordists asking questions, soliciting advice, etc. These questions could often be answered in the blog.

If you have a topic you’d like me to address on this blog, please let me know by posting a comment or emailing me at

Here we go!!

Are you a learner??

I love to teach and I love to learn. Neither should happen without the other. Those who have learned (I believe) have an obligation to teach and those that teach have an obligation to continue learning. When we refuse to do these things simultaneously we stunt our growth. We’ll watch others in our field pass us by. We’ll watch them make strides professionally and creatively, then wonder why we’re not able to do the same thing. We’ll say, “They’re no better than me, why are they successful?” or “Must have been luck!”

Learning and teaching are important. After all, someone provided information so that you could learn. Maybe you had a teacher who invested in you (as I did). Maybe you are self-taught and found the information on the internet or in books. Either way, someone provided you an education. Consider this and then spend time investing in someone who wants to learn.


I am always searching the internet for new ways to learn and new things to present to you. My latest find is It is a tutorial site for just about any piece of software used for creative mediums. Tutorials for Photoshop, Reason, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Logic, Native Instruments, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office, etc.

For $25/month you’ll receive internet access to ALL of their dozens of tutorials. These videos are amazingly done, in depth, and taught by industry pros in their respective fields. WELL WORTH THE MONEY!

I just finished a watching a tutorial for Spectrasonics’ “Omnisphere.” It was Incredibly in-depth and easy to understand. One of the best lessons I’ve seen. Additionally, the tutorial gave a fantastic overview of synthesizer programming in general; a topic I’ve always had trouble wrapping my head completely around. I can say safely that I not have a firm understanding of synth programming at its core. I can’t wait to dig in and build some new synth sounds from scratch!

Subscribe, you’ll learn a lot!!

Maybe in the spirit of teaching you’ll turn someone on to this blog. I’d love to have even more subscribers. The more the merrier!!